I don’t know how Canadian courts handle this kind of case up north, but down here, we would call this a pretty strong example of a) non-commercial, fair use of a party’s trademark and b) using allegations of trademark infringement in a lawsuit to quash the lawful exercise of free speech.
Of course, is it really no surprise that a company whose entire business model is established around encouraging extra-marital affairs would resort to a such a questionable course of action in order to obtain possession of some gripe website domain names (and removing some criticism of its services at the same time).
For more information about the trademark infringement implications of gripe sites, I recommend the following online resources:
- Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Avoiding Gripes About Your Gripe (or Parody) Site”
- Rachel Braswell, Consumer Gripe Sites, “Intellectual Property Law, and the Use of Cease- And-Desist Letters to Chill Protected Speech on the Internet”
- Traverse Legal, “Expert Advice for Avoiding Complaints about Your Gripe Site”
- Webgripesites.com – a website which chronicles gripe sites facing legal action